Morphine Sulfate Addiction and Abuse

Morphine is a highly addictive pain medication commonly used to treat people suffering from moderate to severe pain symptoms. Over 2 million Americans are addicted to morphine.

Morphine Sulfate Addiction and Abuse Rehab

Article Contents

What is Morphine Sulfate?

Morphine sulfate is commonly referred to as morphine. Morphine is a very strong pain killer used to treat people who have experienced a major injury or who suffer from severe pain. Morphine is also commonly used to manage the pain of people with terminal cancer. Morphine is one of the main drugs used for recreational purposes, and it is highly physically and psychologically addictive.

Morphine has several clinical uses and sells under many brand names. Some of the most used brands are MSiR, MS-Contin, Roxanol, RMS, Kadian, and Oramorph SR. Some of morphine’s street names include MS, Morf, Morpho, God’s drug, Mr. Blue, and Dreamer.

Is Morphine an Opioid?

Morphine is an opioid medication commonly used to relieve moderate to severe pain. The type of morphine administered depends on the needs of the patient. Short-acting morphine is taken as needed for pain, while the extended-release form of morphine is used for around-the-clock pain treatment. This form of morphine is not used on an as-needed basis.

Liquid Morphine

Liquid morphine is used as morphine injection to relieve moderate to severe pain. Liquid morphine works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. Morphine liquid is injected intramuscularly (into a muscle) or into a vein.

Dilaudid vs. Morphine

Dilaudid is the brand name for the generic drug hydromorphone, and it works like morphine but with a few noteworthy differences.1 Dilaudid and morphine are addictive and can have severe side effects. The side effects of both drugs include nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation, drowsiness, and dizziness. However, Dilaudid may have additional side effects such as lightheadedness, flushing, and sweating.2

Both medications belong to the opioid analgesics drug class because they work on the opioid receptors in the nervous system. These drugs change and reduce a patient’s pain perception. Dilaudid and morphine come in different forms, such as liquid and oral forms. The oral forms of both drugs are the most common. While a patient at home can use all forms, hospitals often use the injectable form.

Dilaudid and morphine must be taken only as prescribed. Both drugs have similar side effects and sell for relatively the same price.

Morphine Dosage

The morphine dosage required by a patient depends on their medical condition and response to treatment. Patients should not increase the dose, take the drug more frequently than prescribed, or take it longer than prescribed.

Recommended doses:3

  • Adults: 10-20 mg (5-10 ml) every 4 hours. Maximum daily dose: 120 mg daily
  • Children (6-12 years): 5-10 mg (2.5-5 ml) every 4 hours. Maximum daily dose: 60 mg per day.
  • Children (1-5 years): 5 mg (2.5 ml) every 4 hours. Maximum daily dose: 30 mg per day.
  • Children (under 1 year): Not recommended.

Signs and Symptoms of Morphine Sulfate Addiction

Morphine addiction can cause physical and behavioral symptoms. Addiction is characterized by the compulsive use of drugs despite the consequences that come with such use. Below are some of the physical and behavioral symptoms of morphine addiction:

Physical Signs

Behavior Signs

Morphine Side Effects

Morphine may cause critical or life-threatening breathing problems. These issues are especially likely in the first 24 to 72 hours of treatment and anytime a patient receives a dosage increase.4

Short-Term Side Effects

Long-Term Side Effects

The Dangers of Morphine Addiction

Morphine Overdose

In the case of an overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222 or the equivalent in your area. You can find information on overdose at If the victim is unconscious, has had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or collapses, call 911 immediately.5

If you are on a morphine medication plan, you should discuss with your doctor about having a rescue medication called naloxone readily available. Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an overdose. It works by blocking opiates to relieve the life-threatening symptoms caused by the high levels of an opiate in the blood.

Symptoms of Morphine Overdose

Morphine Withdrawal

An opioid withdrawal can be mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe. Your healthcare provider can determine the level of withdrawal symptoms through diagnostic tools and examining drug use history and symptoms.

When you use opioid medications for a long time, your body grows numb to the effect as a form of adaption. You require more and more doses of the same drug to have the desired effect as time goes on. This desensitization is dangerous as it increases the chances of an accidental overdose.

How Long Does Morphine Stay in Your System?

The pain relief of a single dose of immediate-release morphine is likely to wear off within 4-6 hours. The drug, however, can still be detected after the last dose is taken using different tests:6

  • A saliva test detects morphine for up to 4 days.
  • A urine test detects morphine for up to 3 days.
  • A hair test detects morphine for up to 90 days.

Here are some of the factors that may affect the time it takes for morphine to clear from your body:

  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Dose
  • Weight
  • Use with other drugs like alcohol

Morphine Treatment Options

Approximately 2 million people in the United States struggle with an addiction to morphine, with more addictions developing daily.7

If you or anyone you know is addicted to morphine, know that you are not alone. Thankfully, researchers, scientists, and doctors are finding more effective ways to help people overcome addiction.

Morphine addiction treatment includes therapy, support groups, and medications to manage withdrawal symptoms. A comprehensive treatment approach increases the chances of full addiction recovery. The best addiction treatment programs usually include a physician-assisted detoxification program.


Morphine detox may be uncomfortable, painful, cause increased inflammation, and have the potential to cause damage to healthy brain cells.

A doctor-assisted detox tapers down morphine doses to get a user off the drug slowly. This detox may be done with morphine or a substitute with similar effects. Clonidine is one of the most used drugs for morphine detoxification as it helps to reduce irritability, cramping, sweating, and anxiety.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

For people that require long-term maintenance of their withdrawal symptoms, they may be prescribed buprenorphine. This form of detox is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Buprenorphine can significantly reduce the time it takes to detox from morphine.

Inpatient Rehab

The most effective form of treatment for people with morphine addiction is an inpatient program. This programs usually last for about 90 days, and it typically starts with a medically supervised detox. The benefit of this program is that it allows a recovering user to concentrate on treatment and recovery without any social and professional pressure from the outside world.

Morphine Recovery is an Ongoing Process

Morphine recovery is a lifelong process. A detox may take as little as a few weeks, but the fight to staying clean is a lifelong process. Those recovering from a morphine addiction should seek help and accountability with ongoing support groups and individual counseling.

Recovering from morphine use usually requires lifestyle changes and may include cutting some influences from your social circle. It is critical to build relationships with a supportive community and seek a positive lifestyle.


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